G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”
Albert Einstein: “I am content in my later years. I have kept my good humor and take neither myself nor the next person seriously.” (To P. Moos, March 30, 1950. Einstein Archives 60-587)
Martin Amis: “Gogol is funny, Tolstoy in his merciless clarity is funny, and Dostoyevsky, funnily enough, is very funny indeed; moreover, the final generation of Russian literature, before it was destroyed by Lenin and Stalin, remained emphatically comic — Bunin, Bely, Bulgakov, Zamyatin. The novel is comic because life is comic (until the inevitable tragedy of the fifth act);...”
Werner Herzog: “We are surrounded by worn-out, banal, useless and exhausted images, limping and dragging themselves behind the rest of our cultural evolution.”
John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."
Justin E.H. Smith: “One should of course take seriously serious efforts to improve society. But when these efforts fail, in whole or in part, it is only humor that offers redemption. So far, human expectations have always been strained, and have always come, give or take a bit, to nothing. In this respect reality itself has the form of a joke, and humor the force of truth.”
विलास सारंग: "… इ. स. 1000 नंतर ज्या प्रकारची संस्कृती रुढ झाली , त्यामध्ये साधारणत्व व विश्वात्मकता हे गुण प्राय: लुप्त झाले...आपली संस्कृती अकाली विश्वात्मक साधारणतेला मुकली आहे."
Saturday, December 15, 2007
His conclusion: American President Woodrow Wilson was an inadvertent villain. (Like so many other American Presidents since and before him, I might add!)
“… Every high school student learns how the punitive Treaty of Versailles the American president helped negotiate in Paris pushed Germany toward militarism, National Socialism, and eventually World War II. Andelman looks beyond Hitler, surveying the worldwide havoc the document wrought. There is no dearth of material.
Of course, Wilson wasn't the sole architect of that global catastrophe. But unlike the incompetents, cynics, and partisans who populate Andelman's account, Wilson entered (and won) the war on behalf of his Fourteen Points, which promised freedom and self-government for every people. Instead, the treaty, enabled by his naiveté, betrayed those ideals and laid the groundwork for another world war, followed by 50 years of imperial chess. And the victims whose self-determination Wilson signed away at Versailles represent, to Andelman, the nails in Wilson's coffin.
Why'd he do it? For a fantastical notion called the League of Nations—a precursor to the United Nations that he hoped would prevent future wars. Wilson understood it was a hard sell—why should the winners surrender any sovereignty? So he knowingly allowed the Allies to make greedy (and colonial) territory assignments, guessing that his deference would buy enough goodwill to make the League real. Once it existed, he assumed, it would simply fix the mistakes of Versailles…
…Predictably, the League of Nations was never going to right these wrongs. In fact, the U.S. Senate wouldn't even approve its creation, and without American muscle it had no real power. Around the globe, the mistakes of Versailles then began to multiply. Maps that had been drawn strategically to divide coal mines and ports rendered states with indefensible borders and irredentist minorities: ethnic Germans in Poland, for example, clamored noisily to rejoin the motherland until Hitler's panzer divisions granted their wish just two decades later.
Meanwhile, native peoples—from Algeria to China—subjugated by Allied colonies after Versailles furnished inviting targets for communist insurrections throughout the century. And in outposts like Saudi Arabia, where revolutionaries failed to eject Western-friendly despots, anti-colonial feelings often turned anti-Western. Wilson hoped the 117,000 American dead in World War I would fertilize the seed of democracy; instead, Andelman says, they produced Al Qaeda. ..”
When I was taught League of Nations at Miraj High School (9th standard?),where great historian Vasudevshastri Khare वासुदेवशास्त्री खरे was a teacher once, I wasn’t taught a word of this!
Woodrow Wilson for a long time was a hero to me.
B S Mardhekar बा. सी. मर्ढेकर was a poet with global sensibilities. Korean war was a major event in world history but rarely figures in Marathi literature. Mardhekar’s few poems must be an exception.
"अजून येतो वास फुलांना"(Still fragrance emanates from flowers) is one such. Another one is "जमीन म्हणते मीच धांवतें" (Ground says I only run).
The latter poem has this stanza.
नळीतलें जग नळीत जगतें
उगाच रुसवा रसायनाचा;
उगाच दावा मानवतेचा
आणिक डंका सामर्थ्याचा !
“Testtube world lives in testtube
gratuitous grudge of chemicals;
gratuitous claim of humanism
And drumbeating of brute force !”
The late M V Dhond म वा धोंड reviewed it for दैवज्ञश्री(दिवाळी Diwali 2000). He showed how this was a severe indictment of hypocrisy in American claim of humanism and Chinese claim of communism.
Testtube world is the world of hoi polloi.
See related picture post here.
President Woodrow Wilson campaigning on behalf of the League of Nations in St. Paul, Minn., in 1919 (Picture Courtesy- Newsweek website).
He looks so photogenic. Everyone around him looks so happy. He might win in 2008!